Tag Archives: Wildflower

Well, I declare!

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Well, I declare!

I open the valve on the far-field water trough and I nonchalantly look around the ground, thinking, There are no new wildflowers about.

I am wrong.  I see three new wild flowers.

Well, I declare, my Aunt Lennie used to say.

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Notes, corrections and additions:

Mandala56 posted this comment: ‘What’s that blue one called? When I was a kid we called it “elephant’s ears”.’  I replied that I did not know — yet.  I was in the field when I published the post.

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Orange milkweed, not globemallow

Please note the change of identification from 7:00 a.m. to 3:11 p.m.  I thought you might like the changing process of classification.

Composed at ca. 7:00 a.m. this morning, before field trip

The hunt is on again for identifying a wildflower, but this time the plant in question falls outside the ranchito and does not fit into my project of cataloging wildflowers on my land.

Yesterday afternoon at about Mile Marker 352 on the south side of Interstate 20, I saw a bush-clump of brilliant orange-scarlet flowers.  I have never seen such brilliance.  Hurrying to the ranchito and my office, I combed page-by-page my wildflower identification books and at least five websites that classify flowers.  I may have found the answer, but I cannot with a lot of confidence conclude the flowers to be the Caliche globemallow or Scarlet globemallow and I have had to reverse my classifications before — I once identified the Wine Cup as a Desert Mariposa — so, I must go up the hills to my west tomorrow and find the flowers again.  Elaine Lee and her mother have recently seen ‘neon-orange flowers’ near Putnam, Texas, on Interstate 20.

In reflecting on the Scarlet globemallow (?), I may have seen a family’s roadside memorial marker with orange plastic flowers wrapped around a cross?

Composed at ca. 3:11 p.m. after field trip to photograph

I combined a trip to the First National Bank of Santo at Mingus, Texas, with a field excursion up on top of Ranger Hill (Mile Marker 352) to photograph this flower.  I thought I had it down as a Scarlet globemallow even though I flew by the plant at 70 m.p.h.  I made two trips by the flower before I turned into the grass along side Interstate 20.  There was no access road nearby so I turned on my emergency blinkers.  I discovered five clumps of the plant and its blossoms as trucks shot by. 

Of course, I am self-conscious at the side of an Interstate taking pictures of wildflowers:  What the hey am I doing here?  A few truckers blow their horn.

I admit I am so curious about this plant and flower that I spend $8.00 in diesel fuel going up the hill from where I live to get close to this flower and photograph.  That’s ‘What the hey am I doing there.’  Secondly, what the hey is that flower doing there?  Too many questions with not enough answers, so I drive back to the ranchito, eat a ham sandwich and upload the pics and begin to compare the blossoms with Scarlet globemallow.  Totally different blossoms, totally different plants.

This search, I think, is going to go on for a long, long time.  So, I pick up my first manual, and on page 16 of Campbell and Lynn Loughmiller’s Texas Wildflowers is the Orange milkweed also known as Butterflyweed, Butterfly milkweed, Orange milkweed or Pleurisy root.  That was fast.

I have Green milkweed on the ranchito, but no Orange milkweed.  I am curious as to the medicinal properties of the Orange milkweed.  And, what is pleurisy?  I remember hearing it as a boy:  I’ve got some pleurisy this morning, Little Jack.  I think it must be some sort of joint pain?  In any case, I am confident as to the classification and it is a brilliant, showy blossom known as Orange milkweed.

Many county roads meander about my area.  I think my next trip will be up the road for 15 miles or so where my mail carrier habitually sees a bobcat cross the road.  There be things to discover and photograph up the road, up the hill and into nature’s wonders.  I do believe it so.

 

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Shame and Kisses: More Flowers of Flying Hat (12-13)

Catclaw or Shame Vine

12. Catclaw, Shame Vine

This blossom and plant attests a rapid response to the human touch. It is variously known as: Shame Vine, Sensitive-Briar, Catclaw, Shame-Boy  (Mimosa microphylla). It has appeared every Spring since I have lived here, but I never photographed it before today. When I looked up the name of the plant, I also read that the tiny opposite leaflets close upward quickly when touched or walked upon. One authority says that the mechanism of withdrawal is not known in all respects.  Fascinated, I went down after lunch and shot this video of the Catclaw or Shame Vine.  Sure enough, when touched, it drew its claws in or folded its leaflets in ‘shame.’  Look at this video for it’s fascinating.

 

The Wild Honeysuckle or Kisses

13. Wild Honeysuckle, Bee Blossom or Kisses (Gaura suffulta), April 2012.

I spent two hours in the fields and grove this morning, photographing blossoms, mustang grapevines, yucca and the family of Gyp of Indian Blanket. Suddenly, there erupts in the pastures the Wild Honeysuckle pictured above. One day it is not there, the next day the flower is spread over five acres of pasture.  I never knew Honeysuckle grew on the ranchito.

The area has had two good rains in the last month that accounts for the lushness of the fields.

Of course, in identifying the blossoms above I found no quick method to do so.  I kept going among three wildflower books and the pictures in the books are not always precisely reflective of my photographs.  I find the Lady Bird Johnson Wildlife Center possesses a number of photos and variations that I can deduce better than one picture in one book.  But it did not help me this time.  I nearly gave up and was about to publish the blossom anyway, when I went into the Roadside Flowers of Texas by Mary Metz Wills and Howard S. Irwin.  Wills painted the wildflowers and did not photograph!  Nonetheless, I found a sketch of Wills that coalesced the attributes of the Wild Honeysuckle for me to identify.    Wills and Irwin’s book was published in 1961 by the University of Texas Press.

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What is this with the local naming of plants?  Shame Boy, Shame Vine, Kisses, Catclaw?  Before we had scientific names, the visual and behavioral characteristics set plants and blossoms apart for identification.  ‘Tis useful, quaint, enduring in memory.  Only this Spring have I finally seen the ‘stork’s bill’ in the Stork’s Bill plant.  It is not in the blossom, but is the shape of the seed pods in the plant’s emergent foliage.  I think both names are necessary, the scientific for classification and study, and the local idiomatic names that reflect culture.  I enjoy learning names of nature’s plants and creatures for it is like meeting strangers — long and lasting friendships may endure, strangers no more.

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I know you may think I am tedious about the Gyp Indian Blanket, but here is another picture of the family.  I can see the family outside my kitchen window and often monarchs perch and feed upon the family.  I have photos of monarchs perched upon the blossoms and will post them in the future.

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Flowers of Flying Hat (1-4): Late Winter blossoms

Human beings set goals, or at least I think they should.  On the other hand, doing what comes naturally has its attraction too.  I have set several objectives regarding nature observations on my 53 acres.  Here on the place — called variously, the ranchito, Flying Hat Ranch — I have sought to identify every tree on the place and have started a good list of American elm, cottonwood, mesquite, juniper, oak, and so on.  Identifying every tree continues to be a goal.  Tree identification was (still is) my first goal in field work on Flying Hat.  Other goals I have set up include:

observing another fox and taking its photograph,

identifying every bird I see,

identifying every bird I hear,

for one year, photographing every wild flower I observe on Flying Hat.

Achieving these goals, and the process of doing so, is personally satisfying and gives me narratives for this blog.  I have decided to start another goal-oriented project and demonstrate it on my blog.  I have begun taking pictures of the wild flowers on Flying Hat and my goal is to continue photographing and identifying flowers (all colorful blossoms) through a turn of seasons for one year – March 2012 – February 2013.  So, let’s see how far I can go with this project.  Here are my first photographs.  The No. 3 flower is disputable as a “Texas Star.”

(If I have made an error in typing, please comment or e-mail me your reasons for seeing the flower and plant differently.  I want to be right in my typing, but more than that I want the typing to be correct.  Note: All photographs are taken on the 53 acres of my ranchito; none are photographed off the place or off the ranchito grid.  For a precise location of Flying Hat, see location information in this blog footer.)

1. Verbena (Verbena bipinnatifida?). February 26, 2012, west slope of terrace, Fenster's field. See Wills and Irwin, p. 189.

2. Parralena (Dyssodia pentachaeta), of the Aster family. February 26, 2012, on back terrace and in Fenster's field east of the house. See Ajilvsgi, p. 148.

3. Bluebell bellflower (Campanula rotudifolia), February 26, 2012. See http://www.wildflower.org/gallery/result.php?id_image=3102; see notes below.

4. Violet ruellia, violet wild petunia (Ruellia nudiflora). February 26, 2012, Fenster's field, far field. See http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=RUNU; Ajilvsgi, p. 377.

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Notes, corrections and additions:

No. 3 flower and plant is probably as described in caption.  Thanks to Montucky of Montana Outdoors blog and Grethe of Thyra blog.  The issue seems to be resolved it you stand up the flower and look at the total plant.  The flower would droop like a bell and the leaves and stem favor the image in the citation in the caption: http://www.wildflower.org/gallery/result.php?id_image=3102.

Mary Wills and Howard Irwin, Roadside Flowers of Texas.

G. Ajilvsgi, Wildflowers of Texas.

Campbell and Lynn Loughmiller, Texas Wildflowers.

Steven Foster and Christopher Hobbs, Western Medicinal Plants and Herbs (A Peterson Field Guide).

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